We can all remember (with varying degrees of fondness) our middle-school days. A time when the boys had yet to catch up to the girls in regard to both height and maturity, middle school offered numerous opportunities for puppy love, pictures that are totally embarrassing now and, of course, the latest style trends. We may have begged our mothers for these trends in 2007, but they're a little dated now. But that doesn't mean they're not worth remembering! Like those pictures of you making a duck face to hide your braces, middle-school fashion provides many opportunities for fond memories (and maybe blackmail).
1. ANYTHING from Abercrombie & Fitch
What was it that we loved so much about Abercrombie & Fitch? With a pretty standard style and sleeves that could effectively cut off the circulation in your arms, it couldn't have been the actual clothes. Maybe, instead, it was the challenge of actually finding them in the store, a place that attacks all senses: enticed initally by the attractive college guy standing shirtless at the door, unsuspecting mothers and daughters plunge into the almost total darkness that is Abercrombie & Fitch. Mother and daughter are separated and are unable to hear each other's alert calls because of the music that shakes the entire shopping mall. Delirious from the smell of the cologne and perfume, the pair stumbles around, grabbing random items of clothing, only to be reunited blissfully at the checkout line, where the hot guy charmingly convinces them that yes, that $40 graphic tee will never go out of style, and yes, that puffy white coat will keep you warm when you go skiing. Really, all you wanted was the moose logo. Totally worth it.
2. Rubber bracelets
It started with the Livestrong bands and it all went downhill from there. We had the imitation Livestrong bracelets that said Love, Courage or Strength. We had an entire menagerie of zoo animal bracelets living on our left arm. We reorganized them during class and traded them in an intense black-market setting during recess. Why did we have a bizarre obsession with wearing our entire collection of bracelets on our arms? Whether they were animal bracelets or imitation Livestrong bands, we had to have them all and wear them all simultaneously. Maybe we thought that more rubber = more lunchroom prestige, or maybe we genuinely thought they looked good. Either way, it's probably a good thing for everyone that this trend eventually bit the dust. With eighth-grade graduation, our jewelry moved on to real metal bracelets.
3. Juicy Couture tracksuits
Okay, these HAD to be cool - celebrities wore them. But there was one key difference. Celebrities wore these on their off days, fleeing from the paparazzi, whereas we wore them proudly to the largest social event of our lives: the school day. There's no way that something that looks this good could ever go out of style. Perhaps the one time it was acceptable to wear a full sweatsuit to school (minus the groutfit trend of high school and the unintentional groutfit trend that is college), the era - no, the dynasty - of Juicy Couture tracksuits prevailed in middle schools long after we left. Whoever had parents deranged enough to spend $300 on a single outfit of loungewear was probably also deranged enough to think that wearing one of these made you cool. Oh, wait - it totally did make you cool. Just the zip-up sweatshirt alone gave you a little street cred with the lip-gloss-plastered popular crowd, but nothing really put you higher up on the social ladder than the full ensemble.
4. The North Face fleece/UGGs combination
In middle school, winters hit hard: your lips were chapped, kickball on the baseball diamond was replaced with harsh dodgeball in the smelly gym and it became too cold to wear your pink, short-sleeved Abercrombie & Fitch polo. The bright side? It was easy to look cool during the harsh middle-school winters with this simple trick: the North Face fleece/UGG boot combination. Really, what you wore between these two items was trivial as long as you wore them both. Bonus points were available if you could pull off rolling your UGGs down (as shown in the picture) and if you had any of the following items in the pocket of your North Face fleece: Lip Smacker lip gloss, a pink Motorola Razr (against school rules, of course) and/or a receipt for an Auntie Anne's pretzel and lemonade at the mall.
5. Denim Skirts
It remains unclear as to how we actually walked in a normal way when we were wearing these skirts. Whereas now collegiettes are rocking midis, maxis and flouncy miniskirts, in middle school, "wearing a skirt" translated to one of these restrictive, short denim pieces. They were even cooler if you could see the pockets actually peeking out from the bottom. Though one might consider denim skirts a trend just for warm weather, as they exposed probably 85 percent of your legs, we kept this trend going all year long when, in the winter, we paired them with black leggings (tights are for old people) and, of course, UGGs. Extra cool points if you wore them with a lace-trimmed tank top and a brand-name polo shirt (Abercrombie & Fitch or Hollister Co., preferably).
6. Ponchos and gaucho pants
Don't worry: we'll forgive you eventually if you wore these two trends together. Poor gaucho pants - the precursor to yoga pants, they almost had it right. After we figured out that the capri length wasn't flattering on anybody and that anything flared deserves to be banished, it's safe to say that every group of eight-grade girls had a bonfire to banish this trend. And as for ponchos - the precursor to the big, comfy, knitted sweaters we love now - they almost had it right. Unfortunately, the fringe trend didn't last for long. It feels like as soon as we started experimenting with these flared items, they immediately went out of style.
7. Butt branding
Whether it was Solow, Hard Tail, Victoria's Secret PINK or Juicy Couture, our middle-school selves LOVED to tell other people where we shopped... if they wanted to look at our butts. The real trick here was finding shirts that wouldn't cover our labels but still were cute enough to wear. If we could fold over the waistband of the sweatpants or the yoga pants, it was all the better. Let's just take a moment to remember that, as 12-year-olds, we definitely wanted people looking at our butts. At this point, we have to feel bad for our poor mothers, who probably had a total loss of faith in humanity. Thank goodness we've moved beyond this brand obsession with our loungewear (just kidding - currently writing this in lululemon yoga pants).
8. Sequined purses
Maybe this trend is a little more sixth grade than eighth grade, but we all know that none of us will openly admit to having one of these stowed away with the "Halloween costumes." You could find them in baby blue or black, but this light pink is certainly the most frequent offender. Forget today's chic sequin trend - these were the big, chunky, garish sequins that fell off at any given moment. What would a middle schooler even put in a purse, anyway? Perhaps a mini Coach wallet, a mentha lip gloss from Bath & Body Works and, of course, her LG Chocolate cell phone. While these may have been cute at the time, we're glad that sequins have evolved into a much more palatable trend today. Don't hold off throwing these out, ladies - they're not coming back.
Last but not least is the choker necklace, a name which should be horrifying to pretty much any person who's not a middle-school girl completely obsessed with them for their "cool factor." Were these a trend because they looked vaguely like tattoos, or because, like everything that was cool in middle school, they were probably a little too tight? Though black was the most popular color because it matched most of our outfits, we could also find these in ever-stylish neons. Bonus points if you have the matching bracelet. Pair with some hoop earrings from Claire's for the full effect.
Most of us are counting our lucky stars right now that middle school is over and that we've made enormous strides in developing our own personal styles. But there's nothing wrong with a little guilty-pleasure throwback, collegiettes: grab your brand-name yoga pants and Juicy zip-up and head to the grocery store. Or, stay in the house where no one will be able to see you.